Monday, February 28, 2011

Cause Turtles Cannot File Lawsuits

More folks fighting the good fight. This time it is conservation groups reminding the federal government about their responsibilities around a little known piece of legislation called the Endangered Species Act. Inaction from these agencies is harmful in itself, too.

Conservation groups served notice on Friday that they would file suit accusing the federal government of failing to protect leatherback sea turtles along the U.S. West Coast, according to the Associated Press.

"The Fisheries Service last year proposed designating 70,000 square miles of ocean off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington state as critical habitat for leatherbacks that migrate there from Indonesian nesting grounds to feed on jelly fish. But those regulations have yet to be finalized." 

Thanks West Coast conservation people, and keep up the great work.

Read the whole story here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Do the Right Thing ICCAT

The International Commission for the CONSERVATION of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) is meeting again. Let's hope they show up this time and live up to their name.

Trying to stay optimistic despite how they have failed miserably to protect Atlantic bluefin in the past.  

The fate of one of the ocean's largest fish and most important apex predators will be on the table at meeting of The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to take place February 21-25th in Barcelona, Spain, according to the Associated Press.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Take the Shark Fin Soup Pledge and Pass it on

Somewhere in the vast oceans a ship is hauling in sharks. Somewhere someone is slicing off fins with a dark, sharp knife. Somewhere dead sharks are tossed over the side of a weathered boat with freshly finned gashes glistening red.

Somewhere rows and rows of steel gray shark fins are drying on a dock waiting to be sold. Somewhere a middleman shoves a fistful of cash into his pocket and grins. Somewhere someone is slurping up shark fin soup, hoping so and so will notice their importance and affluence.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of all this.

Now you can take action thanks to Shark Savers and Wild Aid.

Killing 73 million sharks a year mainly for soup -- that's the poster child for abuse of the natural world. Healthy oceans need this apex predator. 

Pledge to NOT eat shark fin soup. And pass it on.

If you know anyone in China, where much of the demand for shark fin soup lives, or if you know anyone who owns/works/frequents Chinese restaurants, send the pledge to them. The pledge is bi-lingual and takes about 4.5 seconds to complete.

Take the Pledge.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Energy Independence Now

The headline today is that oil prices are rising because of political turmoil thousands of miles away. The stock market is tumbling. Just what Americans need while still recovering from the recession, trying to pay bills, put food on the table, and stay employed.

Can't we see that we're hostages to big oil? They have their fat, sweaty fingers clasped around our economic and national security necks.

Imagine if we did not have to live like this. If we had other ways to run our cars and our economy. This is what energy independence is all about.

How do we free ourselves? Get off the petroleum economy and embrace a clean energy economy. Don't listen to the ominous sounds from those who make money off petroleum, or the politicians who stuff their wallets with big oil's dirty money.

Focus our patriotism on helping America establish a renewable energy economy, one that includes jobs and our legacy of innovation. 

There will be growing pains, it will not happen overnight, but America needs to move as fast as possible to a renewable energy economy for so many good reasons. We can do it.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fishermen Look to Hook Offshore Wind

Fishermen building offshore wind farms would be a great story on many levels if were true. Turns out it is.

Fisherman's Energy of New Jersey recently took the next step -- petitioned for permits from the state -- toward building six turbines in the waters off Atlantic City to generate 25 megawatts.  That's enough to power about 25,000 homes, according to Yahoo Answers.

If that seems like a drop in the bucket, remember we have to start somewhere. It is powerfully symbolic as well as a step in  the right direction. Every step we take away from a petroleum economy and toward a clean energy future is a good one (as long as it is sustainable).

And the story is a good one. "I remember when Fishermen's Energy first came forward. All these big-name, well-connected energy companies were presenting plans, and more than a few eyebrows were raised when fishermen - fishermen! - submitted a plan as well. They said that they wanted to expand their harvest from the ocean. They wanted not just fish, but wind," according to Sandy Bauers of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

There's something about fishermen netting the wind. Sailors would be a good, natural group, too, as they already harness the wind. 

Read more here.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Trust in a Name?

Sometimes the challenge does not come from the faceless and nameless minions consuming unsustainable seafood or busy being addicted to petroleum. Sometimes it's all in a name.

In particularly devious fashion, the Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO) hides their real motives and goals behind a name that implies they care about healthy oceans. At least that's what some respectable conservationists are saying. 

PSO, a front group for foreign fishing equipment interests, has filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of California's landmark effort to protect its oceans, according to an editorial by Richard Chandler of Defenders of Wildlife on California Progress

He continues: It is sad and unfortunate that foreign corporations now are funding a meritless lawsuit to kill California's bipartisan ocean protection plan that has been supported by two Governors, the Legislature, the Fish&Game Commission, business leaders, and tens of thousands of Californians.

For their part, PSO seems to be associated with a campaign named Keep America Fishing, which targets recreational anglers. Seems innocent and reasonable enough but hard to tell with editorials like Chandler's and others accusing PSO of serious offenses.

The Something's Fishy site by the California League of Conservation Voters refers to PSO as such:  

Funded by fishing equipment manufacturers that profit from overfishing and overharvesting sea life, PSO backers are trying to stop Florida’s efforts to protect the manatee, they support the killing of sea lions in California…and now have turned their attention to blocking protection of California’s coastal marine life.

So maybe PSO does stink, and cannot be trusted, starting with their name.

Read the whole Richard Chandler editorial here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Be Inspired

Check out incredible shots from the Nature Conservancy's photography contest. These images are so gorgeous they recall the hidden pull of nature's raw beauty, that moment when life takes your breath and fills you with hope. Take a look, and be inspired.  

See all the photos here.

Above photos in descending order by Patrick Smith (Hawaii), Megan Lorenz (Canada), and Chris Gin (New Zealand).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tell Congress What's Unfair and Unsustainable

Renewables in lane three

Here's an opportunity to act. Send a note to Congress via Oceana in support of renewable energy.

President Obama got it right in his State of the Union address when he said "instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's," as noted by Oceana.

Yesterday's energy is simply unsustainable. Start with the subsidies. The oil industry, which hauls in billions of dollars in profits every year, still receives free money from the US Government. Much of it was designed to stimulate a nascent industry back in the day but it is still on the books.

Aside from a waste of US taxpayers' money, the subsidies tip the scales for petroleum. Let's get rid of them and get closer to that proverbial level playing field. 

It's about jobs, national security, economic competition, and yes, all the ills of climate change including acidic oceans.

Write whatever you want, or use Oceana's text for the letter to Congress. Have fun.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Comical Spin from the Biggest Polluters

Utilities, oil refiners, and the state of Texas were unhappy recently when the courts said you cannot delay the regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Washington Post.

"Yet another blow was dealt in favor of overreaching government regulation and against the economic well-being of the American people," Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, said in a statement, according to the story. 

I did not know that the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association had a sense of humor.

It is laughable that the head of the association presumes to be looking out for the well being of the American people.

How about phasing out your dirty business, and focusing all that patriotism on helping America establish a renewable energy economy, one that includes jobs and our legacy of innovation? 

Not funny
Environmental organizations hailed the court's order. "The biggest polluters in America hired countless K Street lawyers to undermine EPA's science-based policies to address global warming consistent with its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act," said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, according to the Washington Post.

Climate change undermines the health of the oceans in many ways, so moving away from the petroleum economy as soon as possible is another way to express one's love for the seas.

Read the whole court ruling story here


Friday, February 11, 2011

We Belong to the Sea

Substitute land for ocean in the quote below from one of conservation's great patriarchs, and the wisdom  is just as hefty. 

"We abuse land (the ocean) because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land (the ocean) as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Love and respect, baby
A Sand County Almanac
by Leopold is a green classic, right up there with Walden by Henry David Thoreau and Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.

According to Wikipedia, "Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), which has sold over two million copies.

Influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation, his ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement, with his biocentric or holistic ethics regarding land. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology and was a founder of the science of wildlife management."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Canadian Canned Tuna Tough Talk

Greenpeace Canada named their top 14 sustainable canned tunas. This may be good news for those seeking sustainable canned tuna but Greenpeace does not exactly let anyone off the hook. Ongoing vigilance and a heavy does of skepticism seems de rigueur.

“The destructive practices used to catch most tuna in Canadian stores means consumers could be getting more than they bargained for,” said Sarah King, Greenpeace oceans campaigner.

“If consumers knew of the wasted marine life and imperiled tuna caught to produce their can of tuna, they might think twice at the supermarket. Canned tuna is a staple in many Canadian homes and is found in every supermarket chain, but that could change if tuna sourcing doesn’t.”

Read Greenpeace's report here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Seeing More Sea Cows

Sweet news. There were more manatees than expected in a recent Tampa-area count. Not sure if it's their docile grace or their funny-looking snouts, but you gotta love these beasts.

Read full story here.


Photo: Tampa Bay Online

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dive Captain Nemo Dive

It is worth a quick visit to Google's homepage today to check out their doodle dedicated to Jules Verne's 183rd birthday.

The fun, interactive doodle (don't miss playing with the lever to the right) celebrates Verne's science fiction classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (in French: Vingt Mille Lieues sous Les Mers). 

As Captain Nemo steered his submarine, the Nautlius, through an array of undersea mysteries and nefarious characters, he brought "exciting and inexplicable phenomenon" to generations of readers. Thanks Jules, and Happy Birthday. 

Title Page 1871

Image: Wikipedia

Monday, February 7, 2011

Top Twenty Countries Killing Sharks

The Shark Twenty (% of Global Reported Shark Catch):

Indonesia (13%)
India (9%)
Spain (7.3%)
Taiwan (5.8%)
Argentina (4.3%)
Mexico (4.1%)
Pakistan (3.9%)
United States (3.7%)
Japan (3.0%)
Malaysia (2.9%)
Thailand (2.8%)
France (2.6%)
Brazil (2.4%)
Sri Lanka (2.4%)
New Zealand (2.2%)
Portugal (1.9%)
Nigeria (1.7%)
Iran (1.7%)
U.K. (1.6%)
South Korea (1.4%)

This list released by Pew Oceans Commission and Traffic illustrates the frustrating reality surrounding marine protection, in this case, sharks.

The oceans' vastness, part of its allure and diversity, creates the conundrum. How can we possibly protect all these areas? How can we successfully get nineteen other countries to curtail their behavior when we can barely get the US (Eighth) to do so? The US passing the Shark Conservation Act just recently is a great start. Nineteen more to go. Yippee.

We have to try though, of course. As Jill Hepp, manager of shark conservation for Pew says in a related Associated Press story, sharks play a critical role in the ocean environment.

"Where shark populations are healthy, marine life thrives; but where they have been overfished, ecosystems fall out of balance," she said.

Read the whole story here.

Read the Traffic and Pew The Future of Sharks: A Review of Action and Inaction report executive summary here.
Cut me some slack

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Warm Thoughts Please

In NY and throughout the US, the Winter has taken on a relentless quality. Everything from freezing rain to frigid blasts of wind to mounds of snow. It's a mess.

Maybe this hot-looking tropical beach can warm us up a bit. Feel the heat, the warm water, the need for shade and as little clothing as possible.

Now watch out for that patch of ice.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes, Appeal to Human Emotions

Admit it, I'm darn cute.
 J Wallace, marine biologist, is right. He says speaking to emotions to spur conservation is best in a Smart Planet piece that asks the question: Will Appealing to Human Emotions Save the Environment?

The answer is yes. People will protect what they love. That's why David Helvarg of Blue Frontier Campaign tells people to go to the beach to protect the oceans. It's also a great excuse to hit the sand.

Successful conservation campaigns from the past support this. The fluffy, snowy white Harp Seals or the cuddly-looking Pandas were just too cute to let go. Conservation biologists call these charismatic animals precisely because they evoke positive emotions by their appearance alone.

It is what Futerra concluded in their Branding Biodiversity research -- "presenting the awe and fascination and yes, love, of nature is more effective at stirring positive action and inspiring people than any other methods, especially doom and gloom."

That's why Eco Ocean says Share the Love & Save the World.

Read the lovely Smart Planet post with J Wallace.

Photo credit: